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ESPN Considering Adding Michael Irvin To First Take

“Stephen A. Smith and Michael Irvin have a history of debating and entertaining an audience.”

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The “Stephen A vs. the world” approach to First Take is one step closer to reality with the news that Max Kellerman is headed to ESPN Radio. While it sounds like ESPN is still committed to no permanent co-host, Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that the network has discussed making Michael Irvin a part of the show.

It would obviously represent a return to Bristol for Irvin, who began his media career at ESPN and has been at the NFL Network since 2009. While no deal is finalized yet, McCarthy reports that the network would use the Hall of Fame wide receiver exclusively on First Take. ESPN is reportedly considering using Irving on the show on Mondays during the football season.

Could that leave the door open to Irvin working for both ESPN and the NFL Network? First Take is something that the NFL Network cannot offer him and by not appearing on Sunday NFL Countdown, Irvin would still be free to be a part of NFL Network’s game day programming. That being said, it should be noted that Irvin is in the final year of his current deal with the NFL Network.

Stephen A. Smith and Michael Irvin have a history of debating and entertaining an audience. Irvin routinely shows up when First Take travels to Dallas. The two have been in their share of shouting matches, including one in 2008 that Smith calls his most memorable moment on television. It has prompted Molly Qerim Rose to describe Irvin as Smith’s “biggest rival”. ESPN has even highlighted those arguments in the past.

Mike Fisher of Sports Illustrated asked Michael Irvin about the rumors on Tuesday night. It prompted a very funny exchange, which Fisher documented for the website.

“Fish,” he told me on Tuesday afternoon, “how many times in the last 32 years have I given you a ‘no comment”?

“Never,” I told him.

“Well,” Irving chortled, “you’re about to experience a first.”

Mike Fisher, “Michael Irvin + Stephen A. Smith: Can ESPN Make it Happen?”

McCarthy writes that ESPN is considering other in-house options to go head-to-head with Smith for the rest of the week. He cites sources saying that Marcus Spears, Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams have all been mentioned as potential parts of a rotation for First Take’s second chair.

Sports TV News

LIV Golf Nearing TV Deal With The CW Network

“LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.”

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LIV Golf

According to a report from Front Office Sports, LIV Golf has laid out a deal with The CW Network for television carriage in the United States.

The deal is a multi-year agreement that will see the tour own real estate in lesser-viewed time slots on the network. A revenue-sharing relationship between the tour and the television network is expected to be struck.

LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.

After a standup comedy show in West Palm Beach last week, Feherty reportedly told the crowd “Have you heard of CW? I might get fired for this, but…,” according to report from Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand had previously reported a deal between the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and the network was likely.

Nexstar Media Group — the nation’s largest television owner — is the majority owner of The CW Network. There are around 220 affiliates of the network on over-the-air television stations. Rumors of an acquisition of LIV Golf’s rights come on the heels of The CW Network being linked to the potential launch of a college football bowl game that would air exclusively on the network.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Sports TV News

Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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